Gnosticism and the Language of Sexual Identity

Recently I was listening to the Teresa Tomeo Show and heard an interview with Dr. Monica Miller, professor at Madonna University. Something she said about sexuality was illuminating to me and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

You can hear the interview here. Dr. Miller’s segment begins at 17:00. Most of the interview deals with the sacramental role of women in the Church, but something she said concerning sexuality and sexual identity has relevance to the things I discuss on this blog.

The fatal flaw of the alphabet soup of sexual identity is that it ignores the truths revealed to us by our bodies: we are men made for fatherhood, and women made for motherhood. Dr. Miller expounds on this, explaining that this doesn’t mean merely biological motherhood or fatherhood:

The highest office of any man or woman is to be a mother or a father. . . That also means spiritual fatherhood and spiritual motherhood. If there’s anything that the Catholic Church has really gotten down, really well, is what it means to be spiritually a father and spiritually a mother, and to live out that truth according to the meaning of our human sexuality.

I couldn’t agree more with Dr. Miller’s assessment, when she said, “we live our human sexuality to the fullest within the Christian faith.”

Then Dr. Miller drops a bombshell of clarity that helped me make sense of why I have such an issue with the language of sexual identity, and why I’m convinced Pope Benedict XVI spoke so often of the problems of gender ideology, and why Pope Francis has said that the concepts of gender ideology are demonic.

Dr. Miller began by speaking of the value of Saint Pope John Paul II and his Theology of the Body which she said “has done a great service in terms of . . . making it much more explicit in terms of what it means to be an embodied persons.”

The next portion of her interview provided an epiphany for me:

There’s so much more that needs to be done because our culture is so opposite all of this, that sex is basically just a functional thing, sexuality [is viewed] almost as if it’s a costume, it doesn’t really make you who you are, the real person–when all is said and done, Teresa, we’re still a bunch of Gnostics. We still have this thing about spirit is “the thing” and the body doesn’t matter. That is so non-Christian. And if there ever was a cultural corrective going back to the early Church, that was it: that the human body matters, and the female human body matters, and that was an idea that exploded the ancient world, and in some ways, we need to recapture that.

This is where the language of sexual identity has its roots: in the Gnostic heresy. The body no longer matters, it’s the “spirit” that’s the thing. I still recall when the daughter of Sonny and Cher, Chastity Bono, decided to become Chaz, and seek sexual reassignment surgery. She famously went on to Good Morning America and said, “gender isn’t what’s between your legs, it’s what’s between your ears.”

Spirit’s the thing, and the body doesn’t matter.

This is leading to chaos, and away from human fulfillment.

I stumbled upon a confirmation of my thinking yesterday when I found this article by Dr. Benjamin Wiker, called “The New Gnosticism.”

In it, he writes:

But such defects aren’t the only target of Gnostic techno-manipulation. We cannot understand much of our contemporary social and political situation unless we grasp, deeply and thoroughly, one very important point: the natural distinction of male and female is one more natural limitation that the new Gnostic seeks to remove. Again, in ancient Gnosticism, some women were given a place of precedence, not because they were women, but because Gnostics considered the pure spirit trapped in the body to be androgynous, or better, to be like the angels, neither male nor female. Gnosticism provided an escape from the confines of gender.

In the same way, the new Gnostic drive for equality assumes that the fundamental sexual distinction and its effects on the ordering of social and moral life are ultimately accidents of evolutionary history that can be repaired and superseded. Technology embodies the knowledge and power to eliminate the sexual and bodily distinctions, so that male and female can slowly fade and then disappear in a final utopian world of asexual “individuals.” To cite an obvious example, the great energy put into “alternative reproduction technologies” is really, at heart, directed to the elimination of the fundamental reason for the natural division between male and female.

But the essential biological distinction between male and female has obvious moral and social effects, and the new Gnostic is bent on eliminating the effects of gender using a thorough moral and societal reconstruction. Obvious examples abound: the redefinition of sexuality in terms of pleasure (which is common to both sexes) rather than procreation (where the contributions of each are quite different); following upon this, the advocacy of contraception and abortion so that both men and woman are equally removed from the connection between sexuality and childbearing; the redefinition of marriage as a union of a man and a woman to mean nearly any association, including its opposite, homosexual marriage; the notion that being a wife and mother is a kind of biological punishment or inferior vocation from which technology and politics must help women escape, rather than (as Christianity maintains) a noble vocation essential to our natural good; the notion that father and mother are not unique aspects of the natural family but can be replaced by the gender-indifferent “parent” or “caregiver.”

I suggest you read the whole thing. And pray for those blinded by this form of Gnosticism, especially those within the Church who are trapped in the thinking of gender ideology.

6 thoughts on “Gnosticism and the Language of Sexual Identity

    • Thanks for the question. Yes, you’re right, people with both sexual organs are sometimes born. I’m not qualified to give an official answer concerning this, but to the best of my knowledge, such things are taken on a case by case basis. In the past, usually the child was raised as a male, but now, with the knowledge of science and the ability to do testing through ultrasounds, CAT scans and the like, there is a possibility of having more knowledge. For example, does the individual have ovaries, and the ability to mother a child? Or does the person have fully intact male genital organs, with the ability to father a child?

      There are just my thoughts on this–I’m not an expert on how the Church responds to the intersexed, but it seems that the question of fatherhood or motherhood is the question that would guide the Church on this, since our sexuality is ordered towards father or motherhood. That would determine, I assume, whom one could marry.

      But know that this is not an official answer, by any stretch of the imagination. It is a topic that I need to research more, so thank you for the question.

      • I would think that whatever their sexual orientation, then this would be their path to wholeness. As Christ has told us “I came that they may have life, and have it abunduntly!”…..

        We can’t change the physical disorders or defects of the residue of original sin…..but we can find wholeness, acceptance and abundance of life in Christ Jesus.

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